Monthly Archives: February 2013

Gratuitous Food Photos: Brunch Edition Pt1

What is better than the weekend brunch? Not much if you ask me; weather at a restaurant or a home there is nothing better that having brunch with friends.

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Homemade Bloody Mary’s and Scones

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Esperanto, East Village, NYC

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Omelet and Croissants in Paris

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Chicken Biscuit, Grits, and Doughnut
Pies and Thighs, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Homemade Hurricane Sandy Eggs
(Toast, Brussel Sprout Saute, Marinated Tofu, Poached Egg, Valentina Hot Sauce)

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A Tale of 3 Countries: Parisian Gnocchi Cheese Bake

ParisianGnocchi_02

Over this past weekend my friend came over for dinner and I was having the hardest time deciding what to make. Since I had been on a crepe kick my mind was still in french food land. After much pursing of the internet and my cookbooks this brought me to Parisian Gnocchi, which is an very specific application of Pâte à Choux. From there I decided that it would be great to make a riff on the delicious pesto Käsespätzle I had while in Germany last summer with a nod to American style mac and cheese. This dish became a fitting ode to my Europe trip in July that included a stop in Paris and Germany and a good lead up to my upcoming trip in the spring.

While I was at the grocery store the basil was not looking so hot but the Italian parsley was looking good so I decided to opt for a parsley based pesto instead of the traditional Basil. When I ended up making the ‘pesto’ it became a sauce that was reminiscent of pesto but defiantly not the traditional application. All in all the dish turned out really tasty and while it took a little while to make because of the steps involved (many of which though can all be done in advance so it can come together quickly) and was a much more sophisticated dinner offering than your traditional mac and cheese

PARISIAN GNOCCHI CHEESE BAKE

Serves 2 as a main and 4 as a side

You will need

1 recipe worth of Parsley ‘Pesto’ Parisian Gnocchi (See below) cooked and drained

1 Medium Spanish Onion

2 Cloves Garlic

1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Cup Cheese sauce (see below for the ‘recipe’)

Some reserved grated cheese from the Cheese sauce (Since I used all the cheese I had grated in the cheese sauce I topped the dish with Feta since it was what I had on hand)

8×8 Baking Pan

14″ Saute Pan or Cast Iron Skillet

1 Tbsp Butter

ParisianGnocchi_01

TO ASSEMBLE

Slice the cloves of garlic into thin slices

Cut the onion in half and dice 1/2 the onion into mid size pieces and slice the other half into thin slices

Heat up your saute pan on high heat and add the butter once the butter is hot add all the onions and salt, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook the onions until they are lightly caramelized.

Once the onions are lightly caramelized add in the garlic and cook just long enough to brown the garlic.

Add in the Gnocchi and cook until the Gnocchi are starting to pick up a little color (make sure to mix periodically so they don’t burn)

While the Gnocchi are cooking preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and Grease your baking dish. (This would also be a good time to make the cheese sauce {see below})

Once everything is incorporated and the Gnocchi have started to turn brown on at least one side turn off the stove and remove from the heat.

Pour the contents of your Saute pan into the pot you used to make the cheese sauce (with the cheese sauce still in it) and mix to fully cover everything.

Empty the contents of the pot into your greased baking sheet and top with your reserved cheese.

Place the baking pan into the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the cheese on top has started to melt and brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool for just a few minutes so the cheese can set slightly and cut into pieces and serve.

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PARSLEY ‘PESTO’ PARISIAN GNOCCHI

Parisian Gnocchi is just Pâte à Choux dough (typically used for puff pastries, eclairs, etc) that is piped and cut into pieces over boiling water to make a pasta. This recipe is based on the ratio in Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. These Gnocchi can be made in advance and stored for a day in the refrigerator.

8oz Water

3oz Butter

1 Tsp Salt

4 oz All Purpose Flour (sifted works best)

4 Large Eggs

about 1 Cup Minced fresh Italian (flat leaf parsley)

1 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic Minced

Small Food Processor or a ‘magic bullet’ blender works too

Small Saute Pan

2 4 Quart pots (or 1 just wash in between procedures)

Kitchen Shears

Wooden Spoon

Sheet Pan lined with a clean kitchen towel

Pastry bag with 1/2″ Tip or Large Zip Lock Bag

A ‘Spider’ or another device to scoop out the finished pasta from the water

The Procedure

Parsley ‘Pesto’

Start by mincing your garlic and parsley mix together with the olive oil 1/2 tsp of the salt and all the pepper in your food processor.

Blend together until a thick but rather smooth paste forms.

Heat up the saute pan and add your parsley mixture to the pan.

Saute briefly to pull out the garlic flavors and to meld all the flavors together.

Remove from the heat and place to the side.

Gnocchi

Place one of the 4 Quart Pots on the stove over high heat and add the water, butter, and 1/2 tsp of salt and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour stirring rapidly until a paste forms and the dough pulls away from the side of the pot. Keep stirring for about a minute longer to evaporate off some of the excess water in the dough.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. While the mix is cooling crack your eggs into glass mixing cup for ease of incorporating in the next step.

While the dough is still warm but not hot add the first egg. Mix thoroughly until incorporated, the dough at first will seem like it does not want to except the egg but with enough mixing it will.

Repeat the last step egg by egg until they are all mixed in, making sure to not add a new egg until the previous one is fully incorporated.

Once all the eggs are incorporated mix in your parsley pesto until thoroughly mixed.

Prepare your pastry bag or ziploc bag and scoop out the dough into it.

While the mixture cools fill your second 4 quart pot 2/3 of the way to the top with water and bring to a boil and set up your station. Near where you are boiling the water set up a sheet pan with a clean kitchen towel on it for draining the pasta.

Once the water is boiling pipe out the mixture cutting it with kitchen shears about every 1inch (if using a ziploc bag cut off the corner creating about a 1/2″ hole first). It is best to work in small batches so the pasta does not over cook while you are piping the rest.

When the gnocchi rise test them for doneness (they should could about 2min total, use your judgment based on your set up and the size of your pasta)

Once cooked remove from the pot and lay out to dry on the cookie sheet lined with the towel and let cool.

After all the Gnocchi is cooked you can follow the assembly directions above or keep it in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to a day before preparing the Cheese bake

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Southwest Chicken Gâteau de Crêpes

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While I was going through a busy point at work with out much time to cook the thoughts of crepes entered my head. I became obsessed with the idea of making them and what I would do with them once I made them. I also for some reason have had a non stick crepe pan that my parents gave me for some reason that I had never used which made making crepes inevitable. So on my first day off in a few weeks I made some regular crepes and tried some filling combinations that turned out not as great as I planed (that is another post…) but from that cooking session I perfected my crepe technique. For that session I followed the Crepe Recipe from the Good Eats Episode ‘Crepe Expectations‘.

Since I now had the crepe technique down I started looking into other things to do with crepes and  decided that making a ‘crepe cake’ in a similar fashion to the Gâteau de Crêpes recipe in The Art of French Cooking (Volume 1) by Julia Child was a great idea. I decided to make my own take on the Gâteau de Crêpes on Mardi Gras aka Pancake Day, that was southwest inspired using my Taco Truck Chicken as one of the fillings.

SOUTHWEST CHICKEN GATEAU DE CREPES

You will need

1 Chicken Breast cooked per my Taco Truck Chicken Recipe, for best results I would suggest shredding the chicken I cut mine into small pieces but shredding would be better

1 Recipe of Corn Crepes (See Below)

1 Cup Grated White Cheese (Monterey Jack would be a good choice)

1 Sheet Pan

Parchment Paper to line the pan

Southwest Gateau de Crepes

TO ASSEMBLE

Preheat your Broiler

Layer a piece of parchment paper and lay it on your sheet pan

Layer 2 crepes down on top of each other

Cover the crepe with some of the shredded chicken, making an even layer and sprinkle with a generous amount of cheese

Continue until you are out of crepes making sure your top layer is a single crepe

Cover the top with some of the remaining cheese and place in the broiler for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and brown.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Southwest Gateau de Crepes

CORN CREPES

As I was making a southwest inspired meal I thought making the crepes with an addition of some corn four would give them a bit more flavor and make the finished Gâteau a more elaborate riff on a Quesadilla.

4oz All Purpose Flour

1oz Corn Flour

3/4 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup Water

2 Eggs

3Tbsp Melted Butter

2Tsp Salt

1 Crepe pan or 8″ Non stick saute pan

A Whisk or Blender

A large mixing bowl

A flour sifter (not necessary if you are going the blender route with the crepe batter)

A Sheet Pan lined with parchment

Clean kitchen towel

Crepe

The Procedure

As I live in a small New York apartment I don’t have a lot of appliances like a blender since I don’tt have room for them but this batter can be made quickly in a blender if you have one. My instructions are for if you don’t have one.

Mix the eggs, milk, water, butter, and salt together very well with a whisk.

In a separate bowl sift the flours together making sure you remove all clumps, I prefer measuring by weight but if you prefer volume you need a cup in total of flour before sifting.

While whisking the wet mix in the dry slowly making sure that the flour is fully incorporated into the wet.

Let the batter rest for about an hour in the refrigerator. It is important to let the bubbles settle so the crepes do not gain any volume while cooking.

After the batter has rested set up your crepe making station. As you can see from the above photo I keep my mixing bowl with the batter right on the stove with my measuring cup for transferring my batter to the pan near by.

Start by preheating your oven to about 200 degrees F and prepare your sheet pan by laying a piece of parchment down and having a clean kitchen towel near by. This is how the crepes will be stored while you are cooking the rest.

Right before making the crepes I gently mix the batter with a spoon to make sure that anything that settled to the bottom of the bowl is mixed in. Be careful to not introduce a lot of bubbles when doing this.

Grease your pan with some oil or butter and let it heat up on a medium high burner once it is warm (not too hot as it is non stick and you should not let it heat to a high temperature with out something on it) take your pan off the heat in and hold in one and take your scoop of batter (for my pan almost a 1/3 of a cup is the perfect amount) and pour in the middle of the pan and swirl around to coat the whole pan in a thin layer. Just remember the first crepe will always be funny due to too much oil or to cool/ hot of a pan.

Place your pan back on the heat and let cook for about a minute depending on the heat of your pan, when you start seeing the edges brown you know you are ready to flip.

To flip your crepe there are many ways to do it, as advised in Mastering the Art of French Cooking they suggest 2 spatulas or using your fingers. I failed at both these methods, for me it is just easier to give the pan a good shake and flip the crepe, it takes a little practice by the showmanship of it is fun too.

Cook the crepe for about 30 seconds on the second side just until it starts to be a bit spotty brown.

Then take your crepe and put it on your sheet pan, cover with the kitchen towel and put in the oven to keep warm (as my oven gets too hot this is when I usually turn it off as the radiant heat will keep it plenty warm. Do what works best for your particular kitchen set up)

Continue until you are out of batter, keeping all the crepes warm in the oven until you are ready to use.

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Gratuitous Food Photos: Paris & Istanbul – Summer 2012

Lunch in Paris

Fried Goat Cheese and Apple Salad at a Brassiere in Paris

Steak Frites in Paris

Steak Frites at a Brassiere in Paris

Breakfast in Istanbul

Sunday Brunch in Istanbul at The House Cafe

Turkish Coffee in Istanbul

Turkish Coffee in Istanbul at The House Cafe

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Oat Bars: Episode One

Oat Squares

I have been trying to eat better at work and avoid unnecessary snack trips for unhealthy and expensive snacks during the day, so while pursuing the web looking at different recipes for granola type bars I could make I ran into the  4 Ingredient Banana Nut Bars from The Kitchn. I liked how simple the recipe was so I went to work making some with what I happened to have on hand in my kitchen on that particular day, which happened to be Oats, bananas, Coconut Flakes, and dried blueberries. While the original recipe did not include any egg my mix seemed a bit dry so I threw one in to help bind everything together and add a bit of extra protein into the mix. From that first round of bars I have started to experiment with different additions and subtractions to switch it up and find what I like best.

Regardless if you follow the orignal inspiration recipe or my version below these snack bars are quick to make and great as a quick, healthy and filling breakfast, snack during the day, or as a pre gym energy snack.

Oat Squares

OAT AND SESAME SNACK BAR

Makes about 16  1 1/2″ squares

This Recipe makes a particularly dense bar which is why I suggest cutting them into such small pieces. You can make them less dense by adding some chopped dried fruit to the mix. Either way they are filling, healthy and tasty. I used powdered peanut butter because it has less fat than regular peanut butter but feel free to substitute the normal stuff in its place. This recipe is very forgiving so feel free to experiment and substitute ingredients as you see fit for your tastes and pantry contents.

8oz Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 Ripe Yellow Plantain (about 5oz)

2 Ripe Bananas (about 6oz)

1 Large egg

2oz Chopped Almonds

1 Tbsp + 1 Tsp Sesame Seeds

1 Tsp Blue Agave

1 Tsp + 1/2 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt

2 Tsp Powdered Peanut Butter (available at Health Food Stores)

Preheat your oven to 350°F

In a large bowl mash together the Bananas and Plantain making sure there are no large chunks in the mix. (When I made mine the Bananas and the Plantain were still a bit hard so I sliced them into pieces before mashing to help incorporate, by nature the plantain is less soft than the banana but the mix comes together with enough man power)

Once the Banana and Plantain are mashed up add the egg, powdered peanut butter, 1 tsp of the Cinnamon (save the rest for the top of the bars), Blue Agave, and Salt. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.

Add in the Oats, Chopped Almonds, and 1tsp of the Sesame (save the rest for the top of the bars) and mix well.

Once everything is incorporated turn out the mix into a non stick or grease 7×7 (or 6×6) baking pan.

Sprinkle the top of the bars with the remaining sesame seeds and cinnamon.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the mix is solid and has browned.Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack then turn the bars out of the pan on to the rack and allow them to cool completely.

Cut into 16 pieces and enjoy!

Oat Squares

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